Someday Dancer

Someday Dancer

4.1 21
by Sarah Rubin
     
 

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A ballerina tale with a thoroughly modern twist!

Casey Quinn has got more grace in her pinkie toe than all those prissy ballet-school girls put together, even if you'd never guess it from the looks of her too-long legs and dirty high-top sneakers. It's 1959, and freckle-faced Casey lives in the red-dust countryside of South Carolina. She's a farm girl: Her

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Overview


A ballerina tale with a thoroughly modern twist!

Casey Quinn has got more grace in her pinkie toe than all those prissy ballet-school girls put together, even if you'd never guess it from the looks of her too-long legs and dirty high-top sneakers. It's 1959, and freckle-faced Casey lives in the red-dust countryside of South Carolina. She's a farm girl: Her family can't afford ballet lessons. But Casey's dream is to dance in New York City. And if anyone tries to stand in her way, she's going to pirouette and jeté right over them!

Casey's got the grit, and Casey's got the grace: Is that enough to make it in Manhattan someday? Or might the Big Apple have something even better in mind? When she meets a visionary choreographer she calls "Miss Martha," Casey's ballerina dream takes a thoroughly, thrillingly modern twist!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s 1959, and 14-year-old Casey Quinn of Warren, S.C., knows she was born to dance, even as she imagines her neighbors’ opinion of her: “She ain’t got no grace, and she ain’t no beauty, neither.” In a lively first-person narrative, Casey shares her determination to live her dream, despite her family’s poverty, which has prohibited dance lessons and kept her mother and grandmother working long hours to make ends meet. Encouraged by her grandmother, Casey makes her way to open auditions at the School of American Ballet in New York City, wearing the secondhand clothes of her nemesis, wealthy Ann-Lee (“the Priss”). After eliminating Casey from round one, Mr. Balanchine sends her to audition for Martha Graham, whose style Casey recognizes as her calling: “You could dance anger like this.... Or joy, or sadness, or anything.” Accepted into the scholarship program, Casey embraces her opportunity, while struggling to manage the demands of family, friendship, and school. Deftly balancing themes of good fortune and passion, hope and heartache, Rubin’s fine debut will appeal widely to artists and dreamers alike. Ages 12�18. Agent: Lindsey Fraser, Fraser Ross Associates. (Aug.)
VOYA - Jane Van Wiemokly
Dirt-poor Casey, her hardworking single mom, and grandmother barely make ends meet in 1959 South Carolina, much less have enough money for longed-for ballet lessons. Fellow student, Ann-Lee, whom Casey calls The Priss, does take lessons and is a good ballet dancer. She dares Casey into going to New York City for open auditions for the School of American Ballet. Casey does not make it past the first round, but the school's founder, Mr. Balanchine, recommends her for the full scholarship audition for Martha Graham's modern dance company, since he realizes she is a natural dancer. Getting this scholarship boosts Casey's confidence and she realizes that this is her kind of dancing. She is wary about having to share a boarding house room with Ann-Lee, but she makes friends with another girl who attends the ballet school. If the reader can get beyond the unlikely probability of an unschooled, unknown teen immediately being taught by Martha Graham, it is easier to enjoy the story at face value. Bullying; being separated from family; financial struggles; rivalry among dancers; new friendships; struggling and fulfilling dreams are just some of the themes. Rubin brings the city and dance classes to life and shows that the end result of achieving a beautiful performance almost always involves hard work, dedication, and sacrifices. Although there is a brief appearance by a male dancer, the story will mainly appeal to female teen readers who share a love of ballet and/or modern dance. Reviewer: Jane Van Wiemokly
Kirkus Reviews
A young teen in 1959 South Carolina has one dream, dancing on stage in New York City. Unfortunately, Casey's family is dirt-poor, with no money for dance lessons or much else. Her father died fighting in Korea, so her mother and grandmother, both of whom she loves dearly, must work. She can only watch from a tree limb as her rich, snooty, bullying classmate (dubbed Miss Priss) takes ballet classes. When New York City Ballet's School of American Ballet announces auditions, the Priss is certain of acceptance, while Casey must work after school for the bus fare. Once in New York, she is overwhelmed by its size and teeming population. Her lack of formal training and the ballet master's astute eye lead to a referral to the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Casey loves the movements, takes classes, rehearses and soon dances with the company. Rubin, a debut author, describes the Graham style well but falters in her depiction of New York. Casey may not be the best tour guide for readers, obsessing over dance and family instead of geography, but she does learn to embrace both new friends and Miss Priss. Both Carolinians see their single-minded obsessions quickly--almost unbelievably--rewarded. Dance fans will enjoy the up-close look at a legendary dance troupe. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-16)
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Fourteen-year-old Casey Quinn dances wherever she goes. It's 1959 and Casey's South Carolina family is too poor to pay for lessons or ballet shoes, but she has the confidence to believe she can make it someday. Her defiant voice reaches us directly as she tells her own story of ambition to be a ballet dancer, hatred of rival Ann-Lee (who can afford lessons), and her struggle to buy a bus ticket to New York for auditions at the School of American Ballet. Illusions are shattered when Casey sees the horde of young aspiring ballerinas at the school, but miraculously, Mr. Balanchine spots her natural talent and sends her on to a different teacher called Miss Martha. Of course, Ann-Lee is accepted into the ballet school, but Casey impresses the modern dancer, who offers her a scholarship as well. Rubin's picture of Martha Graham shows her as a brilliant, but neurotic, aging woman who fears she will have to stop dancing. Casey's triumph as a dancer in the company comes much too quickly to be believable, while her unrelenting hatred of Ann-Lee, a hard working and talented girl, becomes tiring after a while, though it's softened by Casey's love for her mother and grandmother and her joy at finding a true friend in the city. We don't see much of New York of the fifties, a truly magical place (though winters then weren't quite like Antarctica), but the atmosphere of studio and performance does suggest the hard work and struggle. While the tale is predictable, it is told with an intensity that can entrance girls who love dance and will be rooting for Casey to succeed. Those who want to know more about Miss Martha will devour Newbery-medalist Russell Freedman's Martha Graham: A Dancer's Life (Clarion, 1998). Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 6�9—In this novel set in the ballet and modern dance world of 1959, hardworking, penniless Casey Quinn journeys from South Carolina to New York City to realize her dreams. The teen uses a wonderfully active voice in tune with her physical nature in her present-tense narrative, e.g., "My stomach quivers like a raw egg." Casey's stubborn can-do personality is nicely enhanced by interactions with multidimensional side characters, such as her selfless good cook of a grandma and a snobby, rich peer. Casey faces grief, loss, and many other tribulations, but she overcomes these obstacles, has some really good luck, ingratiates herself with the right people, and ultimately earns a role in a performance with the Martha Graham Company. At first glance the historical details appear suitably contextualized, although in romanticizing the era the author omits historical accuracy on a great many fronts: e.g., the famously curt George Balanchine is depicted as kind and the School of American Ballet inhabits a grandiose building rather than the plain building it actually occupied in 1959. Nonetheless, many collections will welcome this spunky '50s heroine and her introduction to the world of modern dance.—Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545393782
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
08/01/2012
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
500,240
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author


SARAH RUBIN grew up on an island off the coast of Maine, spending most of her childhood dressing up, reading, and wandering in the pine forests. Sarah earned her BA in Creative Writing and History from Skidmore College, and after teaching dance and drama for a year, she left New England for Old England, moving overseas to Winchester, where she now lives. This is her debut novel.

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